Norwegians buy more electric cars as a percentage of total new car sales than any other country. Thanks to aggressive national policies that favor purchasing an electric car over a conventional car, nearly half of all new cars in Norway are either fully electric or at least include a plug. China also has significant incentives for what it calls “new energy vehicles,” but sales there amounted to just over 2% of the market. So, when Audi chose where it would begin taking reservations for its e-tron quattro (a name that begs to be capitalized) electric SUV, it picked Norway.
Starting today, people in Norway can reserve an Audi e-tron quattro by putting down a deposit of 20,000 kroner, equal to about $2,900. A statement by Audi Norway says, “Simultaneously with the unveiling of the electric Audi e-tron Sportback concept, Audi Norway plans for an advance reservation solution for the electric full-size SUV Audi e-tron quattro. The car is ready for production next year and the Norwegian market is first out with such reservation solution.” The e-tron Sportback (Audi really needs to take a class in capitalization) was unveiled last week at the Auto Shanghai.
No matter how you spell it, the e-tron quattro is an appealing car. It looks like a real honest to gosh SUV rather than a scrunched down sedan trying to pretend its a coupe. Although, why an electric car requires such an enormous grille is a question many people would like an answer to. Audi’s Dietmar Voggenreiter took a not so subtle dig at Tesla when he said back in February that the e-tron quattro would be the “first real premium manufacturer doing a premium electric SUV.”
It will have 3 electric motors — two in the rear and one in front — which will make torque vectoring possible. That’s a phrase that has become popular over the past few years, even though not 3 people in 100 can tell you what it means. For a century, engineers have been struggling to make mechanical systems that allow one driven wheel turn faster than the other. We have had Positraction, limited slip, and Torsen differentials galore, but with electric drivelines now de riguer, the need to make gears mesh at different speeds by using complex clutch mechanisms is eliminated. By adjusting how much juice is provided electronically, each driven wheel gets all the power it can handle and no more.